AFC East: John Gamble

Gailey's staff looks thin on experience

February, 10, 2010
Now that new Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey has essentially assembled his staff, I thought it would be worthwhile to present a snapshot of who they are.

You'll notice a couple blanks still need to be filled in. The Bills have yet to designate a defensive line or linebackers coach and could have other openings on the staff. For example, they could choose to break up inside and outside linebackers.

The Bills have two defensive assistants who haven't been assigned duties. Bob Sanders and Giff Smith have experience coaching the defensive line. Sanders did it last year, but he also coached linebackers for the Miami Dolphins.

What stands out to me is the lack of NFL experience throughout the staff.

Defensive backs coach George Catavolos has banked 26 years in that role. Special-teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven has put in 23 years. But there's a huge drop from there.

Gailey has gathered acquaintances from his days at Georgia Tech and assistants he identified as up-and-comers during his brief stay with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Gailey will have at least eight assistants with two or fewer years of NFL experience in the positions they will hold with the Bills. At least four of them will have zero seasons of NFL experience in their given role.

That's not to say they're all neophytes.

One of those first-timers is veteran quarterbacks coach George Cortez, who has spent more than three decades coaching at colleges and in the Canadian Football League.

They might all be fine teachers, but I think it's fair to wonder how these coaches will handle the fast-paced, high-pressure setting of an NFL sideline on Sunday afternoons.

Bills hire coaches to improve injury list

February, 9, 2010
The Buffalo Bills had, without a doubt, the NFL's blackest and bluest roster in 2009.

They finished the season with 21 players on injured reserve. Football Outsiders put together a formula to measure the impact of injuries beyond games lost, and the Bills easily were the most battered.

New head coach Chan Gailey's choice for defensive coordinator was his paramount hire, but Gailey's second priority was addressing the club's strength-and-conditioning program. Strength-and-conditioning coach John Allaire clearly wasn't going to be back for a ninth year with the Bills.

The Bills are pinning their health on Eric Ciano and John Gamble, who will oversee strength and conditioning in tandem. Ciano has no NFL experience, and while Gamble has spent the past 16 years with the Miami Dolphins, he held a front office job for the past four.

Both, however, are strength-and-conditioning veterans.

Ciano spent the past five seasons as director of player development at Georgia Tech, working there with Gailey for three seasons. Ciano oversaw the entire university's strength-and-conditioning program. He previously worked at the University of Tennessee and Louisiana Tech.

Gamble held an identical title with the Dolphins as Ciano did with Georgia Tech. But in the NFL, player development involves helping players with various off-field issues such as their finances, family matters, continuing education and making the transition to life after football.

Gamble was the Dolphins' strength-and-conditioning coach for 12 years before putting on a suit and tie. Gailey was the Dolphins' offensive coordinator in 2000 and 2001. Gamble spent a decade as strength-and-conditioning coach at the University of Virginia.

"We decided to bring in two head strength-and-conditioning coaches to let them specialize in the specific areas each coach works in, and we feel like we've hired two unbelievable people to run that department for us," Gailey said in a statement released by the team. "The combination of these two guys is going to pay real dividends for our team."